Part 41: Interlude: M4-78 - Power Overwhelming Sharks Without Lasers Pew Pew Pew
Interlude: M4-78 - Power Overwhelming Sharks Without Lasers Pew Pew Pew
Chris Parker, Producer on KOTOR 2 posted:
From a production perspective, the best thing we did was to cut M4-78, the Droid Planet. I won't go into details, but we had this incredible design for a planet of droids. We actually did the first pass on art and built the character models for the location. But we had to look at the schedule and make a big cut after E3. We cut the entire planet. At the time, we were afraid it would make the game too short - but fortunately, there is so much other content, that wasn't the case. And we used a lot of elements from that planet elsewhere in the game. Ultimately, I think it made the game better, but it really hurt at the time, especially for the designer who had almost finished the planet, Kevin Saunders.
Needless to say, this entire post is .
The files for M4-78 can only be found in the X-Box version; by the time they got around to publishing the PC version they smartened up and took them out. We're mainly here to sightsee, so don't take anything on here too seriously; there was very little left of the original files. It's basically the maps that we'll be walking through, the voice files for 2 characters, and that's about it. We'll piece together the story as we go.
We land the Ebon Hawk on the pad here and we're immediately hit with this post-industrial revolution sort of environment.
You can also look over the edge of the landing pad. The skybox for this world was mostly done, though it's still pretty rough. Smoggy red haze, smokestacks, etc. In fact it looks almost like this scene from Blade Runner.
In Los Angeles, 2019, the droids ruled the world.
As soon as you hit the 'Central Zone', you get hit with this ridiculous green fog. This area is a pretty large circle, about as wide as the Korriban valley I'd say, but you can barely see 30 feet in front of you.
There's various things left here from during the testing phases. Like dozens upon dozens of empty chests and containers.
Our first pit stop is the Industry zone. Actually it's suppose to be the Environment Control Zone, but it's confusing. I'll explain further down.
I don't think the skybox for the green fog areas were ever finished, or else it wouldn't have lead to a trippy red/green contrast like this.
If you're wondering, the green stuff is actually suppose to be poisonous radiation. Everyone on the planet was killed from the radiation, which is why you wouldn't find any non-humans here.
Which begs the question, what's the Exile doing running around in the radiation cloud?
Some people have speculated that this area was to be a solo mission for the droids. You would have taken T3-M4, HK-47, and G0-T0 as your party, or something like that. I don't think that makes sense though. M4-78 sounded like it was suppose to be one of the four planets specified in the Jedi archives, meaning you could fly here immediately after finishing Telos. At that point, it was entirely possible that HK and G0-T0 were not in your party yet.
Throughout the planet you find these craters and scorch marks all over the place, like some big battle had taken place. I never found any explanation as to what caused them.
The clipping and collision also wasn't finished. At several points I could walk and shoot through walls.
More crazy smoke. The colours here were so trippy that I kept expecting Father Christmas and his elves to appear every time I turned a corner.
It's suppose to be the Environment Control zone, so there's gas vents and that sort of thing everywhere.
M4-78 was actually seen at the E3 2004 tradeshow, which was in May of that year. Shortly after that it was cut, and the game was released in December.
I think that gave them enough time to edit out a lot of the assets from M4-78 and repurpose them on other planets. A lot of the puzzles got moved; for instance, the docking puzzle on Nar Shaddaa, where you had to figure out which ship to dock first based on their serial numbers? That was originally on M4-78.
Another puzzle that got moved was the whole 'Downloadable Program' aspect of G0-T0's yacht.
Anyway, this zone I'm walking through is really fucking huge; it basically took me an hour to slog through everything in here. I'd hazard to say M4-78 is about 2x or 3x the size of Korriban. At the end of the trek is this entrance to the Archon lair.
M4-78 is a planet of droids yes, but they're controlled by several entities called Archons. There's 3 of them on this planet, and the first is accessible from here.
As far as what was finished, M4-78 is a mix of really polished and really broken stuff. Case in point, this door here. It's got this cool animation of interlocking bars spinning away from each other, and it looks awesome. Except it's buggy after it's opened, and it ends up being next to impossible to walk through the doorway.
We meet our first Archon.
Wait, is that a fucking shark?
"Hello. I am IS-24. Controller of the Industrial Zone of M4-78. What is your request?"
"What are you?"
"I am essential to all manufacturing activities on the planet. I was responsible for constructing the droid army."
"So you were the one who sent all the droids to attack me?"
"Our last instructions from our masters were to prevent any from reaching the Industrial Core."
"Why aren't you attacking me then?"
"I have some questions."
"I will answer your questions to the best of my ability."
"What is this place?"
"This is the colony M4-78. We droids arrived on this world years ago and began to prepare this world for colonization. The resources on this world are especially abundant, and we were able to expand rapidly across the entire planet."
"Who sent you here?"
"That information was lost. When the Sith arrived, we learned that they were the colonists. M4-78 instructed that we served them."
"How did you know they were the colonists?"
"When the Sith arrived, we asked them if they were the colonists, and they said they were."
"I don't think that's true."
"Our colonists were the Sith."
[Persuade] "What if they lied to you?"
"You might be right, but it doesn't matter. They are dead."
"Our colonists, the Sith, were our masters. We droids were sent to colonize M4-78 many years ago. Only recently did the Sith arrive to claim the planet. Unfortunately, a saboteur released radiation through the Central Zone and Industrial Zone. All of our colonists were killed."
"You mentioned M4-78 told you to serve them."
"M4-78 is the name of the droid intelligence that governs the planet. When the Sith arrived, he was no longer necessary, and was shut down. He remains dormant."
"Who shut him down?"
"Our colonists finally arrived here a couple of years ago. They began building a droid army and were forced to shut down M4-78 to conserve energy."
"Is there any way to reactivate M4-78?"
"Who is ES-05?"
"ES-05 is in charge of Environmental Controls, but I have not had contact with her since M4-78 was deactivated."
"Where can I find her?"
"ES-05 is located in the Environmental Zone, which can be reached from the Central Zone."
"There's no way you can reactivate M4-78 by yourself?"
"Our colonists are dead, and I do not know how to proceed. M4-78's guidance is necessary. Find ES-05, and gain her support."
IS-24 was only one of two NPCs that were voiced for this area. I don't believe the text dialogue files survived, so this is all we've got. As the Exile isn't voiced, I don't have the original player responses, so I just made up my own; you get the gist of it from IS-24's dialogue anyway.
We learned from IS-24 about the Sith, so at this point we can presumably gain access past these force fields.
Earlier I mentioned the slight confusion over the two main areas of M4-78, the Industrial and Environmental zones.
IS-24 says someone flooded the Central and Industrial zones with radiation, which explains all the green fog shit we see. However, the area with the green stuff we walked through was actually the Environment Control area.
The real Industrial zone is blissfully clear of the fog.
Again, like the other area, this place is huge. It took me another 45 minutes or so to slog through here.
Some parts of the map are remarkably detailed. The texture work looked all done and everything.
Other parts, well, you can stare out a window and you'll see buildings floating in midair off in the distance.
And the end of the zone, there's another underground Archon lair.
And yet another shark. This is ES-05, the controller of the Environmental Zone. There's no voice files for her, so we have no idea what was suppose to go on here. But we can safely assume we would have convinced her to help reactivate M4-78, the main droid intelligence of the planet.
I guess I should explain the whole shark thing. The mapping work was mostly finished for M4-78, but character models weren't; for testing, they would have just used placeholders until the art work was done. In this case, they used the Firaxan shark models from the planet Manaan, from KOTOR 1. Judging from the tubes and the water tanks and everything, it looks like the Archons were suppose to be these biomechanical droid hybrids grown in a tank. Which is pretty interesting, since I don't think we see a lot of that sort of sci-fi in Star Wars.
Remember how IS-24 mentioned there was a saboteur who released the radiation poisoning and killed all the Sith? I think it's a good assumption we would have met him at this point (in the Environmental Control core).
It's actually a guy named Kaah Ortok, who was Master Lonna Vash's padawan. There's no voice set for him either, so some people have assumed he was a non-human, like a Twi'lek or something. He believes that his master was killed, and the act of murdering all the Sith on the planet has turned him to the Dark Side; there probably would have been a fight, and the Exile would have had a choice of either redeeming him or killing him. Typical Good/Evil stuff.
With both Archons on our side, we're ready to go activate M4-78.
Please don't let it be another shark.
Fuck, it's another shark.
The animation is quite cool for these Archon rooms; the green grid patterns there scroll up and down, ala the Matrix:
I see that on shows like Stargate too. You're suppose get a sense of data being processed, just by the visual cues.
I don't know what the end goal of this planet was. If I had to guess, the Light Side ending would have had the Exile re-activating M4-78 and restoring peace to the planet; even granting the droids autonomy over themselves? Something like that. The Dark Side ending - maybe convincing M4-78 that you're the real colonist? Enslaving the droids to produce an army for you? Though that might have been too out there even for this game.
I also find it interesting the main droid and the planet both share the same name - M4-78. I suspect the big reveal would have been that the planet was the droid. When the droids arrived, they colonized the entire planet with their buildings and machinery; what if all of it constitutes a single droid entity controlled from here?
Oh, at this point you would have stumbled into Jedi Master Lonna Vash, who had been hidden here. Again, only voice files were left, so I had to make up the Exile's responses.
"Thank for freeing me from this tomb, hospitable though it may be."
"Master Vash. What are you doing here?"
"Indirectly, one could say that you brought me here."
"I learned that a group of Sith came here, seeking the one they called the last Jedi - you. Kaah and I arrived to investigate the situation. We learned the Sith pretended to be this planet's colonists, and began utilizing its resources and industrial power. We could not allow them to create a base here."
"How did they all die?"
"Kaah is a virtuoso with computers. He managed to spike into the system and flood the Industrial Zone with radiation. The Sith attacked our position before he had finished. I held off the Sith but they... overwhelmed me. When I regained consciousness, I was in this chamber. M4-78 tells me that the guardian droid of the Central Zone placed me here."
"I dislike... passivity. Much like another Jedi I know. With the Council's support, I decided to take the fight to the Sith."
"Did you find out where these Sith came from?"
"This victory here is all I can claim, and it was Kaah's expertise, not mine, that brought it. The source of the Sith remains unknown to me."
"I have some questions."
"Ask me whatever you wish."
"How is Kaah doing?"
"He is well, but shaken by his experience."
"You are Force bonded with him?"
"Yes, as many Masters and Padawans become with time."
"He said he couldn't feel you through the bond. He thought that you were dead."
"Kaah was pulled to the Dark Side through his fear. He could no longer feel our bond."
"Is there any way to break such a bond?"
"The bond can be broken in many ways. If one falls to the Dark Side, the bond may fade and eventually break. This is when Kaah was gripped with fear, he was unable to feel our bond. He assumed I was dead."
"I have become bonded to another, and I fear our bond could be fatal."
"That is most unnatural. It is painful to lose one to whom you are bonded, but it is not fatal. This bond you share with Kreia is not like any I've heard of. How did it come to be?"
"It's a long story. I have other questions."
"Very well. What do you wish to know?"
"What happened to all the other Jedi?"
"Most of the Jedi have scattered. Any time the Jedi have tried to assemble they were massacred by the Sith. We had no idea where the attacks were coming from."
"Why did the Council cut me off from the Force?"
"Look within for the answer. We are each solely accountable for everything in our lives. Nothing ever happens to us unless we allow it."
"I have seen the holorecording of the Council's decision to send me into exile. I need answers."
"Of course you do, but I cannot discuss that with you unless in the presence of the Jedi Council."
"I have found the other council members. They are preparing to gather again."
"Very well. I will be heading to Dantooine to wait for the Council to assemble. Are you certain you have no more questions for me before I go?"
At this point, Darth Sion, the invincible Sith Lord, swoops in out of nowhere.
"Goodbye then, Jedi."
Vash pushes the Exile out through the doorway and closes the door behind her.
And the Exile does what he does best, which is to run the hell away.
How M4-78 fits into everything is up for debate. We do know a lot of puzzles were moved to other planets, and I think at one point the Korriban cave was on M4-78 instead. With both the cave and Master Vash on M4-78, it does seem like Korriban ended up replacing M4-78 as one of the 4 major planets you can travel to. There's also some speculation that Korriban was initially meant to be part of the third act of the game, and you were only suppose to visit the cave as part of your endgame revelation. It would have went something like:
Peragus -> Telos -> Nar Shaddaa/Dantooine/M4-78/Onderon -> Korriban -> Dantooine -> etc.
Another theory goes that you would have found some clue on Korriban that led you to M4-78, so the two planets were joined in the same way Dxun led to Onderon.
My thoughts: who knows, who cares? It's gone at this point and the content was moved elsewhere, so it's not a big loss. These things get cut all the time in games, and the only reason it's different this time was because they accidentally left the maps in the release discs. The only dropped ball is that what Vash says about Force Bonds are actual plot points later.
Next update: we'll be back playing the real game!